Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Peridontal Disease

Progression of Periodontal Disease

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and no better time to talk about the importance of your oral health and how it relates to the rest of your body especially if you have Diabetes.

We all know that the importance of bi-annual cleanings and for individuals who have periodontal disease, 3-4 times a year. Your oral health is part of an entire systemic process and it can distress your overall health. Individuals with periodontal disease stand a slightly higher risk to heart disease and other infections that could affect your health as whole.

Individuals, who have Diabetes, stand a higher risk of infection and experience more difficulty fighting periodontal disease hence the need for cleanings 3-4 times a year. Individuals with Diabetes who do not have their blood sugar or glucose levels under control, can struggle fighting infections and typically have more bacteria and plaque than the average person. What this means is these individuals are at a higher risk of having oral health issues and fighting infections in general.

Periodontal disease is an oral disease that affects the gum, tooth and bone. Periodontal disease can increase an individual’s ability to fight bacteria that invades the oral cavity. For this very reason, patients with periodontal disease are seen more than twice a year to remove these colonies of bacteria that form in a smaller period of time. If periodontal disease goes untreated, these bacteria that corrode the gum and bone could eventually make its way to the heart, and possibly causing systemic issues and potential heart issues as well.

Undiagnosed Diabetes is a serious health situation as it can contribute to high blood pressure and is also related to high cholesterol which can hugely escalate the threat of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Individuals living with Diabetes can be at greater risk of elevated blood sugar levels resulting in infections from periodontal disease. It is recommended to get your blood sugar levels at least once a year at your annual physical.

A clean mouth is a healthy mouth and in most cases a clean mouth is a healthy body!

Oral Cancer, The Silent Threat

“The American Cancer Society’s current estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2013 are”:

  • About 36,000 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • An estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers.

During your bi-annual cleanings, our hygienists perform a preliminary oral cancer screening and Dr. Yarbrough performs a full oral cancer screening during his exams on all our patients. This may appear as a redundant practice, but it is our job to manage, capture and understand your oral health and part of that is by being aware of the potential of oral cancer threats. During an oral cancer screening we can gather precise information to assist us in discovering early onset of oral lesions on the roof of the mouth, tongue, throat and gum tissues.

By performing these thorough checks during your cleanings we are able discover minor growths that are simply detachable in their early stages, in most cases. However, when regular examination are prolonged and not performed two times per year it is quite possible that if a growth begins forming it without being diagnosed, it could potentially progress into a silent threat to the oral cavity as a whole. Typically in the early stages of these growths they are challenging to be seen by the unaided eye, hence the importance of performing a thorough oral cancer screening by a dental professional. By using instruments and telescopic loops, we are capable of seeing tissues up close and can find abnormalities very quickly, usually.

In addition to our traditional methods and regular instruments for monitoring oral cancer, we also use a Velscope to assist us in the early detection of Oral Cancer. This astounding technology allows us to detect abnormal tissue structures by using a “distinctive blue-spectrum light which causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce”. Healthy tissues “fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease”. The Velscope allows us to see irregular tissue patterns that we would have otherwise not have seen with the unassisted eye. The Velscope is non-invasive, safe, quick, and precise tool. This light is a potentially lifesaving instrument that can help us detect the early onset of Oral Cancer.

Oral Cancer is a silent threat because it usually does not become painful and extremely apparent to the naked until it is too late. Undetected it can cause extenuating damage to the oral cavity and potentially throughout the body. Once diagnosed, Oral Cancer has the potential to spread to the larynx, esophagus and lungs. If detected early on, there are several methods of treatment, removal and other procedures to help procure the longevity of the overall health of the oral cavity and body. Preventative medicine is always your best bet, by seeing your dental professional twice a year with a periodic examination, Oral Cancer can most of the time be identified during a treatable stage!

Here is a YouTube video explaining how the Velscope works:

Patient Comfort

blanket12-300x235At Westgate Family Dental, patient comfort is one of our highest priorities. We offer a large array of cozy comforts in addition to Conscious Sedation for those nervous folks that are white knuckled just by the thought of going to the dentist. We know that the dental office isn’t anybody’s desired place to be, so we do our best to generate the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable.

Our patients are like our family and when you come to Westgate Family Dental we want you to feel as if you are at home as much as humanly possible. We offer comfy plush leather operatory chairs coupled with a beautiful view of our 100 year old oak tree and plush green backyard. If you want to just unwind, close your eyes and disconnect, we also offer dark sunglasses and wireless headphones to drain out the clamor of the busy dental office. Got ESPN? We do! We have 32″ HD TV’s in all of our operatories that viewable when lying back in the dental chair. You can kick back, relax and watch your favorite daytime television program and use our wireless headphones to tune everything out but the TV! Got Pandora on your smartphone? We have FREE Wi-Fi and an available iPad for your convenience to listen to commercial free Pandora during your visit!

For clinical and health standards we tend to keep our office a little bit on the chilly side so we offer all of our patients plush fleece blankets, pillows and neck rests. We do our best to create an atmosphere of comfort and we want more than anything for you to feel like you are somewhere other than the dental office!

In addition to our cozy perks, we also offer IV Conscious Sedation and Oral Conscious Sedation. IV Conscious Sedation is safe, reversible and puts you in a relaxing rest while we efficiently complete your dentistry. IV Conscious Sedation is administered through an IV and has an almost immediate effect. Dr. Yarbrough was specifically educated to administer IV Sedation during a General Practice Residency program he attended after dental school. Overall, this is the best way to take care of your dentistry, not only does it relax you, it also relaxes the jaw muscles and makes for a speedier and pain free recovery!!

For a more cost effective approach, we also offer oral sedation which has almost the same sedative effect as IV Sedation excluding the immediate result. Both sedation practices require an escort to drive you to and from your appointment.

We also offer Nitrous Oxide (gas) which doesn’t require a companion, after your procedure we place you on Oxygen which safely removes the Nitrous from your system. You are done and are able to drive home immediately following your procedure. In addition to our sedation options we always administer a local anesthetic to numb the area of the mouth we are treating. However, this doesn’t mean you have to stay numb the rest of the day because we also offer Oraverse, an injectible reversing agent that eliminates your numbness!

Check out our list of Cozy Comforts!

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Got Crowding?

facebook square smile logoFor all of you that have made it through life thus far, without ever having to contend with braces or crowded teeth, consider yourself lucky! For the rest of us, braces and crowded teeth are a way of life and without braces, the complications associated with crowded teeth creates more monsters than you can shake a stick at!

Fixing crowded teeth is not just for aesthetics it is also for your overall oral health. Crowded teeth have a tendency to cause copious oral health difficulties. Why is this? Well, to start with your mouth is a living breathing thing. You have live tissues that need circulation and blood flow in order to provide life to your bone and tooth structures, ligaments and nerves around your teeth. When this blood flow is disrupted by bacteria, destruction supervenes.

Crowded teeth can be the cause of plentiful dental issues simply because crowded teeth prohibit you from properly cleaning your teeth and gums. Bacteria accumulates around those crevices causing decay and sometimes unforeseen decay because of the crowding as it can mask decay on an x-ray and sometimes doesn’t become evident until it has turned into a grander problem.

In addition to the devastation crowded teeth causes to our teeth, there are also the gums to consider as well. Your gums are your life force and protective covering for your bone and teeth. If bacteria sits on your gums and is not cleaned properly over periods of time, that bacteria will begin to eat away at your gum tissue causing it to recede, which will then give way to the bone as bacteria will settle in and round the bone which hold your teeth into place, creating a myriad of issues, bone loss, periodontal disease, gum disease, tooth loss, tooth decay, bleeding, odor. You get the picture.

There are several options to fix rotated, and crowded teeth, the orthodontic approach is the most common, braces. And now there is Invisalign, which can simply fix these issues with clear retainer, minus the brackets and long term commitment. For simple cases, Invisalign is a great alternative and Dr. Yarbrough is now an Invisalign provider. During your next examination, ask us about Invisalign and see if you are candidate. In more extreme cases, we can elevate your care to an orthodontist to help fix severe crowding issues with traditional braces. Our goal is to keep you worry free from long term dental issues, because the older we get the worse the crowding becomes and the harder it is treat. So don’t wait, call us today and schedule your Invisalign consultation!

The Importance of Dental X-Rays

x-rayHave you ever wondered why we take dental x-rays once a year? Sometimes the response from patients is they think that it isn’t pertinent or do not want to get exposed to radiation. At Westgate Family Dental we want to set up our patients with success and manageable oral health that doesn’t turn into expensive dentistry. This all starts with frequency. And with frequency we mean, cleanings every 6 months, exam 2 x’s a year and x-rays 1 x year. This sometimes seems like a lot, but look at as an investment into your oral health. And here’s why…

For starters we use digital sensor x-ray technology which is proven to be the safest and smallest form of radiation. Meaning, there is a 70% decrease in exposure to radiation than tradition x-ray films. On top of that, you receive more exposure to radiation from the being in the sun for 20 minutes than you would in a lifetime of dental x-rays once a year. For example, according to recent statistics, “a full series of 18 dental X-rays has 27 times less radiation than a lower gastrointestinal (GI) series and 20 times less radiation than one year of normal background radiation from the environment. The 4 bitewing X-rays taken during dental checkups have 79 times less radiation than a year of normal background radiation.” Digital x-rays are safer, clearer, and instantaneous; they also give us better diagnostic information than traditional films. We are able to diagnose better as clinicians and see things we were unable to measure and see before.

Frequency and Reason

Why do I even need x-rays and why do I need them so often?

First of all, without x-rays it is impossible to complete a full examination of the mouth. X-rays show us teeth, bone, tissues and cavities which better help us diagnose as they show us hidden dental artifacts and structures such as impacted wisdom teeth, bone loss and decay, all things that sometimes cannot be seen during a visual examination as these can be hidden either under tooth structure or tissue. Using x-rays during our examination allows comprehensive diagnosis and allows us to take care of smaller issues before they grow into larger, progressed lesions (cavities), abscesses, cysts, growths, bone loss or deterioration of tissues. If these things are caught early, they are more likely easier to treat and less inexpensive. Without x-rays, it is like driving blind and likely that decay in between the teeth can be missed in its early stages.

What are the different types of x-rays?

In our office we take different types of x-rays, for different types of reasons…

Bitewing X-Ray
bwxThese are called cavity detection x-rays. These are the x-rays we take once a year during one of your two cleaning appointments. These pictures show cavities between the teeth, bone loss and tissue recession. These x-rays are so vital to a complete examination; it is like getting your oil changed without putting oil in your car. You could probably start up your car and drive for a while but over time things will self-destruct. We do not take x-rays to make money; we simply do it because that is standard ADA protocol and it is to better help and serve our patients dental needs long term. By taking these x-rays once a year we are able to diagnose early on and avoid expensive treatment in the future.

Full Series of X-Rays or FMX
We take a full series of x-rays every 3-5 years. This series of x-rays shows us everything; we are able to see teeth, tissues, bone, hidden tooth structures and the roots of your teeth. These x-rays show us the entire crown down to the rip of the root; they also assist us in diagnosing any abnormalities in the root and bone structures in addition to abscesses, these are called periapical x-rays.

Panoramic or Pano
If there are issues with the development of wisdom teeth and possible impaction, we will take a panoramic x-ray. The reason for this x-ray is it is a full x-rays showing us the entire mandible, mandibular nerve structure and where the wisdom teeth are in relation to this nerve. panoIt also shows the magnitude of impactions, and also assists us in implant placement by allowing us to measure the depth of bone. This can also assist in the discovery of tumors in the jaw bone as well.

When it comes to your oral health, x-rays are our best defense to the potential threatening oral diagnosis. X-rays allow us to see what we can’t see with the naked eye and in return create a more accurate treatment plan that represents the patients without guesswork. In the end, we are able to keep your dental costs down, by taking dental x-rays by catching things early on instead of allowing decay, bone loss, tissue recession, and abscesses to go without diagnosing. In the end, we want what is best for our patients, more importantly we want our patients to know and understand why we do what we do. Our patient’s best interest is always our highest priority!